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Human Rights Watch
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Last updated
Tuesday, November 30, 1999

Current Events
Focus on Human Rights

Chechnya: Renewed Catastrophe (November 30)

China: 10 Years After Tiananmen (November 30)

Indonesia: The Post-Soeharto Period (November 24)

Crisis in Kosovo  (November 8)

Civil War in Sierra Leone (October 27) 

The Pinochet Decision  (October 21)

Violence in East Timor  (October 20)

Central Asia Crossroads  (October 20)

India: Human Rights Abuses Fuel Conflict  (September 30)


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Latest Reports from Human Rights Watch

Chechen Rebels Shoot Unarmed Civilians in Gekhi
(New York, November 30, 1999) -- Unarmed Chechen civilians attempting to maintain a neutral zone in the town of Gekhi came under direct, point-blank fire from Chechen rebel fighters on Sunday, November 28, Human Rights Watch said today. At least five civilians were wounded in the attack.
Rights Group Calls for Safe Corridor for Civilians in Goyty
(New York, November 25, 1999) Thousands of civilians in Goyty need a safe exit from Chechnya, Human Rights Watch said today. The town, about fifteen kilometers south of Grozny, is swollen with displaced persons from elsewhere in Chechnya and may soon come under Russian attack. Russian forces shelled Goyty on November 21, reportedly killing at least seven civilians and raising fears that it could again be subjected to concerted aerial or artillery attacks.
Sharif Trial in Pakistan:Reform of Anti-Terrorism Law Urged
(New York, Nov. 25)— As a Pakistani anti-terrorism court prepared to hear the case against deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Human Rights Watch urged that the legislation creating the courts be amended and that the trial be conducted in full accordance with international fair trial standards.
Use WTO Process to Push China on Rights
(November 24, 1999, New York) -- As the World Trade Organization (WTO) prepared to meet in Seattle (November 30-December 3), Human Rights Watch called on the Clinton Administration to take steps to ensure that its support of China's WTO membership is matched by consistent pressure on China to comply with its international human rights obligations.
South Africa Urged to Bring Ethiopian Dictator to Justice
(New York, November 24, 1999) Human Rights Watch today called on the government of South Africa to bring deposed Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam to justice for massive killings and torture during his rule. Mengistu, who has lived in Zimbabwe since 1991, arrived in South Africa last week for medical treatment.
Looting Underway in Russian-Controlled Areas of Chechnya
(New York, November 24, 1999) -- Russian forces have looted homes in several of the districts under their control, Human Rights Watch said today. Internally displaced persons interviewed at the Chechen-Ingush border told of widespread looting in Sernovodsk (near the border), Ermolovskii (southwest of Grozny), and in the Naurskii district (north of the Terek river)
Aceh: Accountability, Not Martial Law
(New York, November 24, 1999) —Human Rights Watch today warned that a declaration of martial law in Aceh could trigger more violence.
Sudanese Academic Under Siege
(New York, November 24, 1999)—In an open letter today to Sudanese President al Bashir, Human Rights Watch called for an impartial and thorough investigation into a violent attack on the daughter of Sudanese academic Dr. Farouq M. Kadouda.
Northern Ireland: Critique of Patten Report
(New York, November 23, 1999)—Human Rights Watch today challenged the U.K. government to bring the Patten Commission report on police reform in Northern Ireland into step with international human rights standards. The critique is the international monitoring group's contribution to the government's three-month consultation period following the release of the controversial policing report in September.
Russian Forces Attack Hospital at Zakan-Iurt, Chechnya
(New York, November 23, 1999) -- Earlier this month, Russian forces launched an attack at a psychiatric hospital about 15 miles southwest of Grozny, killing its chief doctor and wounding three others, Human Rights Watch said today.
Soldiers Should Be Withdrawn From Niger Delta
(New York, November 22, 1999)—Human Rights Watch today called on the Nigerian government to withdraw the Nigerian soldiers deployed in the Niger Delta over the weekend. The troops were moved into the troubled oil-producing delta region in apparent retaliation for an incident two weeks ago in which several policemen were killed.
Uzbek Women Protest Illegal Arrests
(New York, November 18, 1999)—About forty women gathered today outside the Tashkent mayor's office to protest the illegal arrest and incarceration of their male family members, Human Rights Watch said today. It was the first protest of this scale in repressive Uzbekistan in nearly two years. 
Uzbek Opposition Leader's Brother Disappears in Custody
(New York, November 18, 1999)--The younger brother of exiled Uzbek opposition leader Muhammad Solih has disappeared while in state custody, Human Rights Watch reported. 
Russian Forces Fire on Fleeing Civilians
(New York, November 18, 1999) -- Civilians in Chechnya have fled the towns of Shatoi, Urus Martan, and Achkoi Martan under daily bombardment, Human Rights Watch reported today. Upon arrival at the border, many were forced to pay bribes to Russian soldiers in order to cross into neighboring Ingushetia.
Child Detainees being Tortured in Pakistan
(New York, November 18, 1999) Children accused of committing criminal offenses in Pakistan are routinely tortured by police, Human Rights Watch said today. Many of these children go on to spend months or even years in overcrowded detention facilities awaiting the conclusion of their trials.
Tough Stand Urged on Chechnya
(Istanbul, November 17, 1999)—Human Rights Watch today urged the international community to take immediate steps to stop the violence in Chechnya.
Clinton Visits Bulgaria
(New York, November 15, 1999) The upcoming state visit to Bulgaria by U.S. President Bill Clinton, scheduled for November 21-23, presents an important opportunity to press Bulgarian officials on the urgent need for arms trade reforms. Human Rights Watch pointed out that it would be negligent for Clinton to visit Bulgaria without addressing the country's long history of supplying weapons to human rights abusers.
Governments Breaking Promises to Children
(New York, November 11, 1999) Countless children around the world are routinely denied their basic human rights, Human Rights Watch charged in a new report marking the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Panama Urged to Prosecute Haitian Coup Leaders
Human Rights Watch today called on the government of Panama to prosecute or extradite Generals Raoul Cedrás and Philippe Biamby for atrocities committed during their 1991-1994 military rule in Haiti.
No Justice for Civilians in Egypt's Military Court
(New York, November 11) -- In a letter to President Hosni Mubarak made public today, Human Rights Watch protested the October 31 decision to prosecute twenty prominent civilians in Egypt's military justice system.
Political Prisoners Released in Tunisia
(New York, November 11, 1999) -- Hundreds of political prisoners in Tunisia have been conditionally released since November 6. Human Rights Watch today welcomed the defacto amnesty. Although the government has provided no details or list of names the release of prisoners coincides with observance of the anniversary of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali's coming to power on November 7, 1987.
Iranian Editor on Trial
(New York, November 10, 1999) -- Human Rights Watch today called for the immediate release of Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, the editor-in-chief of a leading daily newspaper, Asr-e Azadegan. Shamsolvaezin is on trial before the Tehran Press Court, presided over by judge Saeid Mortazavi, and has been charged with falsifying documents.
New Russian Attacks Batter Civilians in Chechnya
(New York, November 10, 1999) — Human Rights Watch researchers on the Chechen-Ingush border have learned of new Russian attacks over the past three days in the central and western parts of Chechnya. The attacks have taken a heavy toll on civilians.
Civilian Expulsions From South Lebanon Continuing
(New York, November 10, 1999) -- Despite recent international condemnation of the practice, summary expulsion of Lebanese men, women, and children from their homes and villages in Israeli-occupied south Lebanon continues. From October 25-26, Israel's auxiliary Lebanese militia, the South Lebanon Army (SLA), forcibly removed six Lebanese civilians, including an elderly man, and a woman and her two children, from the occupied zone.
Police Torture Epidemic in Russia Today
(Moscow, November 10, 1999)—The Russian police routinely torture people in custody in order to force them to confess, Human Rights Watch charged in a report released today.
China Uses "Rule of Law" to Justify Falun Gong Crackdown
(New York, November 9, 1999) -- As the Chinese government continued its nationwide roundup of Falun Gong members, Human Rights Watch said that China's intensified campaign against the exercise and meditation group clearly violated United Nations human rights standards. Chinese officials have formally arrested more than one hundred individuals and are preparing to put them on trial.
Prosecutorial Incompetence Frees Rwandan Genocide Suspect
Human Rights Watch today deplored prosecutorial incompetence at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) which resulted in the release of a leading suspect charged with organizing the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
Chechnya: Civilian Casualties in Urus-Martan and Novy Sharoi
(New York, November 9, 1999)—A Human Rights Watch research team in Ingushetia has been gathering evidence of civilian casualties in the central and western portions of Chechnya. In early October, according to multiple witnesses, Russian warplanes, missiles, and artillery shells hit residential areas in Urus-Martan and Novyi Sharoi.
Syria: Account for the "Disappeared"
(New York, November 9, 1999) The body of a Lebanese citizen who "disappeared" in Lebanon in 1990 was returned to his family last month by Syrian authorities. In a letter to President Hafez al-Asad made public today, Human Rights Watch demanded an explanation of the circumstances surrounding the death in custody of Adel Khalaf Ajouri, 52.
Political Trial in Serbia
(New York, November 8, 1999)—The upcoming trial of a prominent political prisoner from Kosovo should be monitored by diplomats and members of the media, Human Rights Watch said today. The trial will begin on November 11 in the Serbian city of Nis.
Many Civilians Killed in Samashki Village, Chechnya
(New York, November 4, 1999) -- A Human Rights Watch research team in Ingushetia has interviewed five survivors of an October 27 Russian attack on Samashki village, located some eighteen miles west of Grozny. Witnesses said the village was repeatedly shelled, beginning on October 15. The heaviest assault appears to have occurred on October 27, when dozens of Samashki civilians were injured or killed.
Tens of Thousands of Displaced Chechens Stranded at Ingush Border
(New York, November 4, 1999) -- Human Rights Watch researchers at the border between Ingushetia and Chechnya have learned that as many as 40,000 internally displaced persons are stranded on the Chechen side of the frontier, prevented by Russian troops from crossing to safety. The column of displaced civilians reportedly stretches for over ten miles, and the overwhelming majority appear to have no access to food, water, sanitary facilities, or shelter. Many of the stranded Chechens are fleeing areas heavily bombarded by Russian forces, and require urgent access to neighboring Ingushetia, a republic of the Russia.
Russian Forces Continue Pounding Chechen Targets
(New York, November 4, 1999) -- Russian forces are continuing to strike Chechen targets with artillery, warplanes, and missiles, according to witnesses interviewed yesterday in Ingushetia by Human Rights Watch. The heavy fire is killing and injuring civilians, and pinning them down in overcrowded basements in central and southern Chechnya.
U.S. Urged to Return Seized Haitian Documents
(New York, November 4, 1999) – Human Rights Watch today joined a United Nations envoy in calling on the U.N. General Assembly to press the U.S. government to return intact evidence of death-squad crimes to Haitian law enforcement officials.
Zambian Police Must Investigate Killing of Opposition Leader
(London, November 4, 1999)—Human Rights Watch today called on the Zambian police to launch an immediate and comprehensive investigation into the killing of Major Wezi Kaunda, an important opposition figure of the United National Independence Party (UNIP). Kaunda is the son of the former president Kenneth Kaunda and the chairperson of the Lusaka provincial district branch of UNIP.
Children Abused In Maryland Jails
(Baltimore, November 4, 1999) -- Hundreds of children are being held in appalling conditions in the Baltimore City Detention Center and other adult jails around Maryland, Human Rights Watch charged in a report released today.
Thailand Must Screen for Burmese Refugees
(November 3, 1999, New York) -- The government of Thailand should refrain from forcibly returning any Burmese immigrants who may have a claim to refugee status, Human Rights Watch said today. The Thai government today initiated a campaign to round up and deport thousands of Burmese immigrants working in Thailand.
Colombian Army Killers Remain on Duty
(New York, November 3, 1999) Two soldiers whom government investigators say murdered a Colombian senator in 1994 remain on the army payroll, Human Rights Watch said today. Despite overwhelming evidence against them, the government has yet to discharge them.
Evidence of War Crimes in Chechnya
(New York, November 3, 1999) -- A Human Rights Watch team in Ingushetia has interviewed nine witnesses to Russia's October 21 attack on the Grozny Central Market. Their testimonies suggest the assault may have been a serious violation of the laws of war, and Human Rights Watch urges the Russian authorities to vigorously investigate the incident and publish their findings.
Trial of Famous Lebanese Singer to Begin
(New York, November 2, 1999) -- The criminal prosecution of the internationally known Lebanese singer and composer Marcel Khalifa is a blatant violation of his right to freedom of expression, Human Rights Watch said today. The trial is scheduled to start in Beirut on November 3, before judge Ghada Abu Karroum. Khalifa is accused of "insulting religious values" by including a two-line verse from a chapter of the Koran in his song "I am Yousef, O Father." He faces imprisonment of up to three years if found guilty.
Civilian Casualties Mounting in Chechen Fighting
(New York, November 1, 1999) The Russian government denies that the current offensive in Chechnya has cost civilian lives, but Human Rights Watch researchers in southern Russia have gathered evidence indicating that Russian warplanes have killed dozens of non-combatants.
Elderly, Poor, and Infirm Remain Trapped in Chechen Combat Zone
(New York, November 1, 1999)—Human Rights Watch researchers in southern Russia have learned that thousands of elderly, poor, and infirm civilians remained trapped in Chechen combat zones. Civilians who have managed to flee the region report that bus drivers, border guards, and corrupt officials are charging exorbitant prices for persons seeking to flee the fighting, forcing the most underprivileged persons to remain behind.
Burmese Court Decision Condemned
(November 1, 1999, New York) -- Human Rights Watch today condemned a decision by Burma's Supreme Court to dismiss a harassment complaint filed by the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) against the government's leaders.
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